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Eagles line gets thinner as Thomas put on IR

The injury problems that have plagued the Philadelphia Eagles continued Friday, as the team was forced to place starting left offensive tackle Tra Thomas on injured reserve with a back problem that will require surgery to repair a lumbar disc.

Thomas missed the offseason program and nearly all of training camp with the problem and, while he started all 10 regular-season games, his play has been affected by it. There had been recent indications that Thomas might need to address the situation with his back before the end of the season.

The eight-year veteran, who has never started fewer than 15 games in a season since joining the team as a first-round choice in the 1998 draft, faces several months of rehabilitation. Doctors are confident that Thomas, 31, will be ready for training camp next summer.

Philadelphia is battling through a rash of injuries on the offensive line and likely will be without the entire left side of the unit Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. Left guard Artis Hicks, who would normally move out to left tackle to replace Thomas, has not practiced all week, and is listed as "doubtful" with a knee injury.

It appears that rookie Todd Herremans, a fourth-round pick from Saginaw Valley State who started at left tackle in the preseason, will get his first regular-season start Sunday, and will go against Packers right end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, the top pass-rush threat on the Green Bay roster. If Hicks cannot play, he will be replaced by Adrien Clarke.

Starting right guard Shawn Andrews returned to practice Friday, but he is still recovering from a shoulder injury and remains listed as "questionable." Andrews expects to play, but there remains a possibility he will be replaced in the lineup by Trey Darilek. Philadelphia is already playing without starting center Hank Fraley, who is on injured reserve for the rest of the season.

If Hicks and Andrews cannot play Sunday, it would leave right tackle Jon Runyan as the lone starter from the opening game of the season.

Offensive coordinator Brad Childress, whose unit is already playing without quarterback Donovan McNabb and wide receiver Terrell Owens, and who lost starting wideout Todd Pinkston in preseason, attempted Friday to remain optimistic.

"This is an opportunity for [the young offensive linemen]," Childress said. "I don't think about [the rash of injuries] as strange. I just think about how these guys are doing, what we can and can't do, what these guys are best at, and what best suits their talents."

To help bolster the line depth, the Eagles on Friday elevated guard Scott Young from the practice squad. Philadelphia also transferred quarterback Andy Hall, signed earlier this week, from the practice squad to the active roster. Hall will be the No. 3 quarterback behind Mike McMahon and Koy Detmer. A sixth-round pick in 2004, Hall spent all last season on the practice squad and was in camp with the Eagles this summer before being released in the final wholesale roster reduction.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.